Resilience is not the same as bouncing back. We tend to create rather a macho ideal of how we should react to adversity and anything short of a stoic, stiff upper-lipped response is a failure. It’s James Bond, straightening his tie as he walks calmly away from scene of complete carnage. Obviously next time I foil a global plot to seize control of the World’s Uranium deposits then this is exactly how I will react, but in the meantime, we have to cope with real life and it is not helpful to create unrealistic benchmarks which we will inevitably fall short of.

It’s OK to feel a bit rubbish for a while when events knock us back .  We should allow ourselves time to get back control of emotions and our focus.  How do we then do this?  Well the research* shows that there are four main routes to being more resilient and to managing Stress.

The four routes to resilience are easy to bring to mind with the acronym CAPS: Confidence, Adaptability, Purpose and Social Support.  Over the years I’ve worked with my coaching clients applying specific techniques to use each of these four to build resilience which in turn enhances productivity and makes work rewarding for the individual and for the organisation.



There is an awful lot to this, but the key here is to be clear what your Strengths are and to understand how you can apply them to the current situation.

It is important to note that confidence is not a goal in its own right.  Confidence must be generated from competence alone and not by artificial means.  Although an over-confident candidate often does well in the very short term (at interview for example), research shows that over time over-confidence gets found out and their outcomes are worse than that of an under-confident person.**

As a means to building resilience and managing stress then, confidence only helps in so far as recalling previous successes and highlighting skills and strengths helps you to prepare better for and deal better with difficult situations.  Don’t build walls of difficulty in your mind, put up ladders of relevant competence.


Click here if you would like to consider what your Strengths are and how to apply them



Many people believe that feelings such as stress, worry and frustration result from factors which are beyond their control.  It’s true that many of our feelings are triggeredby external factors.  But actually most stress is self-imposed.

I know this is a difficult concept, and of course some things are truly seismic and awful.  I’m not saying we can avoid all stress with a different approach to thinking, but we can avoid or at least reduce much of it.

The start point for stress tends to be external events.  How we react to these events might be deeply engrained, but it is something we can choose to change and even control over time.  Because these “stress” reactions are not instinctive.  We are not born with them.  We learn them over time through trial and error.  And as we learn how to respond we create a “world view” informing us how to best respond next time.

If we examine these reactions, we can start to recognise them and catch ourselves in the moment.  And if we stop the chain reaction, we can choose to think and react differently.

For example you may normally react badly when a someone tells you they’ve made a mistake, focusing on the mistake and the problems it will cause. However, if you catch yourself in the moment, you could choose to focus first on the fact that they have brought this problem to you.  And bad news is always good news.  If you know about something early on then you can start to do something about it.  And this person has been brave enough to admit their fault and has given you the chance to help fix things.  You want to encourage both initiative (which will inevitably lead to mistakes on occasion) as well as admitting mistakes as early as possible.  So hearing this problem is more good news than bad.

What we are thinking will determine how we feel. And we can learn to challenge and change the way we think (and therefore feel).  This is clearly not about, “thinking happy thoughts and everything will be fine!” It’s about recognising and challenging unhelpful and negative thought patterns in order to lessen the anxiety and stress that we feel in a difficult situation.



When under Pressure, it’s easy to get lost in a forest of tasks and to forget what we are trying to achieve. Stopping for a minute to reconnect to your purpose can help you to focus on what needs to be done (and what doesn’t.)  It can reconnect you with why you might want to do it, which should hopefully be an energising thing in its own right.


Click this link to consider what you need to do to your overarching purpose?


Social Support

It is natural to want to be independent, but all of us will get things done better and more quickly with some help from time to time.  To do this well we have to be clear who we want to role model and who we want on our support team.

Role modelling can be dangerous, unless you do it very specifically.  For example, I’d like to emulate “how Tina copes with last minute changes and how Mark calms down volatile situations.” Is far more constructive than James is my role model – I want to do everything the same way he does!


Click here if you’d like to think through who your Support Team should be in more detail

Need to do less?  Click here to consider the 4Ds of Time Management

Click this link to think through how to Delegate More Effectively


*  Robertson, I., & Cooper, C. (2011) Well Being. Productivity and Happiness at Work.

** “Confidence.  The surprising truth about how much you need and hot to get it”  Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic